Habitat in search of new partner family

Union County Habitat for Humanity is in the process of acquiring a lot for the construction of its 11th house at 509 S. Maple St., and is now seeking applicants for the home.

President Charlie Westman said Habitat is working with First National Bank to transfer the title of the house which currently stands on the lot. That house will be demolished with help from the City of Creston, the Creston Fire Department, and Public Works in preparation for a new home to be built. Construction is scheduled to begin in August and will take about one year to complete.

The design of the new house will be customized to the needs of the selected applicant, which is why Westman said they’d like to see the application process begin now.

“That’s where we start — we always start with what we call a partner family,” he said.

Westman said the partner family, or selected applicant for home ownership, can be a family of any size — it can even be one person — and age is not a factor. Habitat’s creed is “every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live.”

According to unionhfh.org, general requirements for partnership include that applicants are U.S. citizens living in Union County, are able to demonstrate a stable work history with a steady income, must not have a registered sex-offender living in the home, and must meet income requirements that depend on family size. Westman said Habitat offers assistance to applicants who need to improve their credit score.

“We generally help people who cannot get loans through banks and stuff like that, and part of it is their credit rating. But we will help them, we will counsel them and help them to improve their credit rating, because we want everyone to be successful,” he said.

The house will be sold with a 20-year mortgage with no interest. Payments including taxes and insurance will be approximately $700 per month. An additional down payment for the first year’s insurance will be required.

Current projects

Around Christmas, Habitat closed on the sale of their ninth home in Union County, 606 S. Elm St., which was built for Michael Pettit and his twin sons Adam and Aaron. According to Habitat, the three bedroom, two bath ranch house was built with help from local donations, businesses, volunteers, and a partnership with Southwestern Community College’s carpentry and building trades program and electrical technology program.

Habitat began work on their 10th house, 706 W. Irving St., last August. Now more than 50% complete, the three bedroom house will serve a family of four and is scheduled for closing this summer.

Butler retires after 18 years

Don Butler, who served on the Union County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors for 18 years, announced his retirement from the board early last year. Butler helped to establish the Union County affiliate and was a member of the original board of directors in 2002. Butler said the idea to start a local Habitat affiliate came from his former minister at Salem Lutheran Church, Perry Toso.

“He pushed, from the get-go, to start a Habitat organization,” Butler said.

Butler said about a dozen people joined the original board along with Toso and himself. This new affiliate gave birth to the Habitat vision locally, which is “to provide safe, affordable housing and home repair to those in Union County who would not otherwise be able to accomplish this.”

Butler also served by working on the houses that Habitat constructed.

Westman said he gives Butler the credit for his own start with the nonprofit organization.

“Don was the one that got me started working with Habitat and that work has been very fulfilling,” he said.

Westman said Butler knows the ins and outs of the organization well.

“He was better than a handbook with all the policies. He knew everything — his memory is super,” he said.

Butler said looking back on his years of service, he would like to thank the building inspectors and the Creston City Council for their years of cooperation with Habitat. Butler said the city council has helped them out immensely.

“They’d get a house donated to the city and the city would tear the lot down and fill the basement in and then we would take over on the lot with a very minimum expense to Habitat,” he said.

Butler was recognized for his service by the Habitat board Jan. 22. A recognition gathering was attended by his wife Beverly and members of the board including Vice President Chuck Taylor, Arlan Biere, Jim Mansour, Cindy McDermott, Jesse Bolinger, and Nancy James.

Butler was presented with a hammer that was inscribed with a special message on the handle, which read, “Thank you for helping build Habitat for 18 years.”

For more information on volunteering or applying for a Habitat for Humanity home call 641-344-5523 or visit unionhfh.org.